The Los Angeles County became the first in the US to surpass 1 million Covid-19 case since the onset of the pandemic early last year, local health officials said.
The most populous county in the country, home to 10 million residents, on Saturday reported 14,669 new confirmed cases and 253 additional fatalities, pushing its cumulative infection tally to 1,003,923, while the death toll stood at 13,741, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
There are 7,597 Covid-19 patients currently hospitalised in the county with 22 per cent of them in intensive care, Xinhua news agency reported citing the Department as saying in a statement.
The Department also confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus strain, which was first discovered in the UK. The individual found to have contracted the virus is a male, who recently spent time in Los Angeles County but has travelled to Oregon, where he is currently in quarantine.
The more contagious variant has been previously detected in Southern California's San Diego and San Bernardino. "Presence of the UK variant in Los Angeles County means virus transmission can happen more easily and residents must more diligently follow the safety measures put in place to prevent additional cases, hospitalizations, and deaths," officials noted in the statement.
Los Angeles County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that the presence of the UK variant in Los Angeles is troubling, as the county's healthcare system is already severely strained.
"Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths, five times what we experienced over the summer. This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes," she added.